Thursday, October 9, 2014

Masao Kida

Masao Kida announced his retirement in late August.  Kida had last made an appearance in NPB with the Fighters in 2012.  He has spent the last two seasons playing for the Ishikawa Million Stars in the independent Baseball Challenge (BC) League.

Kida had one of the oddest careers you'll ever see.  He was drafted out of high school by the Yomiuri Giants in the first round of the November, 1986 draft (which BBM refers to as the 1987 draft).  After spending the 1987 season playing for the Giants ni-gun team, he was loaned by the Giants to the independent Miami Marlins of the Class A Florida State League for the 1988 season.  Star included him in their team set for the Marlins that year, so like Masahiro Yamamoto, Kida had a card in the US before he had a card in Japan.

1988 Star Marlins #14
 Kida returned to Japan in 1989 and made his ichi-gun debut with the Giants later that season.  He had his best season ever in 1990, going 12-8 with a 2.71 ERA and leading the Central League in strikeouts with 182.  His first Japanese cards appeared that year - with five Calbee issues (including one in the send-away "Big Size" set) as well as a card in the Takara Giants set.

1990 Calbee #109
Kida spent the next seven years with the Giants.  Following the 1997 season, he was traded to the Orix Blue Wave for Takahito Nomura.  After one season with Orix, he became a free agent and signed with the Tigers.  The Detroit Tigers, that is.

2000 Fleer Tradition #376
Kida spent most of the 1999 season with the Tigers although he did get into 3 games with Toledo, the Tigers' Triple-A team.  In 49 relief appearances with Detroit, he went 1-0 with a 6.26 ERA.  He only got into 2 games with Detroit in 2000, spending most of his time as the closer in Toledo.  His season in the US was cut short, however, as the Tigers released him on June 6th.  He returned to Japan and rejoined Orix.

2001 BBM Late Series #599
Orix released him at the end of the 2001 season and he spent 2002 in "semi-retirement".  But in 2003 he returned to the US, signing a deal with the Dodger in February.  His season was severely disrupted by a serious car accident he got into during spring training.  He ended up only appearing in 21 games with the Dodgers' Triple-A Las Vegas team and 3 with the parent team.  He returned to the Dodgers in 2004 but was claimed off waivers by the Mariners towards the end of the season.  He spent most of 2005 with Seattle's Triple-A team in Tacoma and was released at the end of the season.  He returned to Japan and ended up signing with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows for the 2006 season.

2008 Calbee #047
He had a pretty good year in 2006, posting a 3.09 ERA in 56 games in relief.  He remained with the Swallows for four seasons.  They released him following the 2009 season and he signed with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.

2011 BBM 1st Version #090
Kida got into 21 games with the ichi-gun Fighters in 2010, but his playing time with the top team was cut way back the following seasons - getting into only 3 games in 2011 and only 1 in 2012.  Following the 2012 season, the Fighters let him go.  His final BBM flagship card was in the 2011 1st Version set although he did appear in BBM's team set for the Fighters in 2012.

He joined the Million Stars in December of 2012 and became their general manager prior to the 2014 season.  As far as I know, he is only retiring as player and will continue to be the team's GM in the future.  And also as far as I know, there are no baseball cards of him with the Million Stars.

Kida's strikeout title in 1990 was the sole time he lead the league in any major category.  He made the All Star team twice - in 1990 and 2006 which were arguably his best two seasons.  He appeared in three Nippon Series with the Giants in the 1990's - in losing efforts in 1990 and 1996 and winning a championship in 1994.

1991 BBM #220

2006 BBM All Stars #A50

1996 BBM Nippon Series #S33
I'd be curious to know if there are any other Japanese players who spent three separate time periods playing in the US.  As I stated above, I think Kida has one of the oddest careers there's ever been.

1 comment:

Fuji said...

Great post. Love the Star card. I remember seeing his name somewhere and after some digging, I discovered I own his 1999 Finest rc.